Feature Match Round 6: Ari Lax vs. Bryan Hockey
Ari was playing Stormâ€”an unusual choice for him. Would he be able to overcompensate for his considerable inexperience and overcome Bryan's U/W Counterbalance deck? On a more serious note, Ari sat down knowing he faced a tough matchup against Bryan, and knowing that Bryan had enough experience playing Storm to not trip up.
Ari struggles to push through a Counterbalance.
Ari's 1 was soundly defeated by Bryan's 20, and Bryan began with Island. Ari drew his eighth card and went into the tank before playing Polluted+Delta and breaking it for Underground+Sea, Brainstorming. He resolved Lion%27s+Eye+Diamond, and passed the turn. Counterbalance for Bryan gave him a randomized safety valve.
Ari decided to test it with Lotus+Petal, but Bryan declined to reveal. Breaking the Petal to cast Silence, Ari put Bryan all-in on that Counterbalance before playing Polluted+Delta. He fetched, going to 18, and used Volcanic+Island to Rite+of+Flame. Bryan revealed... Terminus.
â€œIt's a miracle!â€ Ari shouted. But that did lock him out of Empty+the+Warrens...
Now going off with nothing to stop him, Ari played a second Rite+of+Flame to hit four red mana and then cast Burning+Wish, breaking Diamond for blue in response and casting Diminishing Returns as his sixth spell for the turn, with a single red and Underground+Sea available to him. That shuffled both decks, and gave Bryan another shot to blind Counterbalance Ari's combo.
Casting his second Petal, Ari got Bryan to reveal to Counterbalanceâ€”it was Wasteland. The Petal was countered, and Ari sighed before passing the turn with a shrug. â€œNeeded you to flip a three or greater,â€ he admitted. Wasteland destroyed his Underground+Sea, and Bryan ended the turn in the driver's seat.
Ari's next Petal resolved, Bryan Revealing Swords, but he Brainstormed in response to Burning Wish to reveal Counterbalance. Another Burning+Wish, and Bryan cast Snapcaster+Mage for Brainstorm to counter, once more revealing Counterbalance. Another Wasteland left Ari with just a Gemstone+Mine and Lotus+Petal. He tried Lion%27s+Eye+Diamond, resolving it, then sacrificed his Mine to Dark+Ritual.
Bryan revealed Vedalken+Shackles, and Ari was back in it... theoretically. Sacrificing Petal for Rite+of+Flame, Ari went to BBBRR and then cast Infernal Tutorâ€”Bryan revealed Force+of+Will and a blue card to immediately earn the concession.
Bryan 1, Ari 0
Bryan's got an on-deck advantage he just needs to maintain.
Ari kept and fetched Underground+Sea, passing the turn. Brian played Island, and Ari dropped Volcanic island on his next turn before playing Chrome+Mox imprinting Ponder, Lotus+Petal Lion%27s+Eye+Diamond, and Infernal+Tutor, cracking the LED for black mana.
â€œDo you have Counterbalance on two? Because that would be depressing,â€ Ari admitted. Bryan had Wasteland for Underground+Sea, and once Ari passed the turn Counterbalance did indeed resolve. That left Bryan tapped out, and he failed to blind flip for Ari's Burning+Wish on Empty the Warrens.
Land and pass for Bryan, while Ari just drew and shipped. Fetching Underground+Sea, Ari cast Duress. Snapcaster+Mage from Counterbalance did not counter, and Ari saw Terminus, Snapcaster, Force+of+Will, Entreat+the+Angels, and Spell Pierceâ€”ouch! Bryan lost Force+of+Will, and Ari passed with a look of depression on his face.
Bryan fetched to shuffle away Snapcaster, getting Volcanic+Island. Wasteland for Underground Sea, and a blindly revealed Spell+Pierce to counter Brainstorm kept Bryan's advantaged position firmly in place. He had a fetchland and a second Counterbalance on the next turnâ€”double the fun!
Ari cast Rite+of+Flame, and another blind reveal (Pyroblast this time) countered it. The players passed with intermittent land drops, Bryan making it to six and now officially threatening Terminus. More lands for everyone, Ari struggling to build a critical mass.
Engineered+Explosives on zero destroyed Chrome+Mox and Lotus+Petal, reducing Ari to Gemstone+Mine, Volcanic+Island, and Polluted+Delta. Ari cast Brainstorm, and Bryan simply Pyroblasted. Entreat+the+Angels for one 4/4 flier resolved, and now Ari was on a five-turn clock... unless he cracked a fetch.
Counterbalance revealed Snapcaster+Mage on Lotus+Petal, and Ari cast Duress. Bryan fetched in response, chancing a blind flip once more, and revealed... another Snapcaster+Mage. Duress discarded Force+of+Will to leave Bryan on two Spell+Pierce and Terminus, and Ari cast Rite of Flame after landing another Lotus+Petal. He had two Petals and two fetchlands back, capable of paying for both Pierces, and the Rite gave him two red. Dark+Ritual followed, then Tendrils of Agony for seven copies, with Bryan on 16 life.
He Spell Pierced one copy, and Ari noddedâ€”his two fetchlands and Petal remained uncracked. That put life totals at 29 to 4 in Ari's favor. He dropped to 25 as Bryan attacked, and Ari dropped Gemstone+Mine then passed. He went to 21, and then 17â€”and Bryan resolved Sensei's Divining Top.
â€œI'm probably dead,â€ Ari noted.
Two Snapcasters joined the party, attacking Ari to 9 life now, and Bryan sent him into â€œdo or dieâ€ mode with that play. Ari cast Chrome+Mox, imprinted Silence, and then cast Dark+Ritual before resolving Empty+the+Warrens for six Goblins. Bryan Topped around, drew, and played Jace. Brainstorming, he swung for 4 damage and then passed the turn.
Popping Top for Terminus on Ari's turn, he cleared the board and had Counterspell for Ari's Burning+Wish off the top just after. Revealing another copy of Entreat+the+Angels, Bryan locked up the game.
Bryan 2, Ari 0